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RICKEY SMILEY AND SHERRI SHEPHERD RETURN AS CO-HOSTS OF THE 31st ANNUAL STELLAR GOSPEL MUSIC AWARDS

buzzz worthy. . .


Anthony Brown Leads with Ten Nominations; Charles Jenkins and Erica Campbell Score Eight; Tasha Cobbs Earns Six; Richard Smallwood, Israel & New Breed, Tina Campbell, Dorinda Clark Cole and Jonathan McReynolds CHICAGO, IL


ATLANTA, GA (February 17, 2016) - TV and radio personality Rickey Smiley (Dish Nation,Rickey Smiley For Real) and actress and TV personality Sherri Shepherd (Ride Along 2The View) will return as co-hosts of the 31st Annual Stellar Gospel Music Awards. Hailed as the "biggest night in gospel music," this year's Stellar Awards will be held at the Las Vegas Orleans Arena on Saturday, February 20, 2016. The telecast will premiere on TV One during the week of March 6, as well as in broadcast syndication on 150 stations in over 125 markets around the country from March 12 - April 10.

The 2016 Stellar Awards nominees in 28 categories include gospel heavyweight Anthony Brown, a contender for both Male Vocalist of the Year and Producer of the Year, topping the list with ten nominations. The prolific songwriter and his bandmates Group therAPy are also nominated for Artist of the YearSong of the YearGroup/Duo of the YearCD of the Year, Choir of the YearContemporary Group/Duo of the YearContemporary CD of the Year, and Recorded Music Packaging of the Year. Also returning to the show with a slate of nominations this year, chart- topping act Charles Jenkins & Fellowship Chicago receives eight nods, the second highest number overall. Jenkins is nominated for Producer of the Year and Traditional Male Vocalist of the Year, and his critically acclaimed group is competing for Song of the YearCD of the Year, Choir of the YearTraditional CD of the YearMusic Video of the Year and Traditional Choir of the Year.

With eight and six nominations respectively, Erica Campbell and Tasha Cobbs demonstrate the powerful impact of women in gospel music, recognized for Artist of the Year, Female Vocalist of the Year, CD of the YearContemporary Female Vocalist of the Year andContemporary CD of the Year. Campbell also receives a nod for Urban/Inspirational Single or Performance of the Year while Cobb garners one for Praise and Worship CD of the Year.

Richard Smallwood, nominated for Traditional Male Vocalist of the Year, and his group Visionare in contention for Traditional Choir of the YearSpecial Event CD of the Year and Praise and Worship CD of the Year. Other artists earning multiple nominations include Israel & New BreedJonathan McReynoldsTina CampbellThe Rance Allen Group, newcomer Casey Jand living legend Dorinda Clark Cole.

"I am pleased that God has blessed us with celebrating 31 years as the most respected awards brand in gospel music and in the faith-based community," says Don Jackson, founder and executive producer of the Stellar Awards. "We will honor those who have contributed to the growth and success of gospel music as a genre, as well as demonstrate why this art form remains critical to the legacy of American music."

In addition to celebrating the year's best album releases, awards will be presented for the best gospel radio stations for urban audiences nationwide. Terrestrial and online radio programs that broadcast gospel music will be highlighted, along with the top Gospel Announcer of the Year. Nominees for Announcer of the Year are Carmina Barnett from KHVN/DallasTracy Bethea Bodie from WHAL/MemphisLee Michaels from WCAO/Baltimore, and Billy St. Jamesfrom KPZK/Little Rock.

The Stellar Awards Founder Don Jackson will bestow special honors upon superstar Yolanda Adams and Faith-based comedian Jonathan Slocumb, while O'landa Draper will receive theJames Cleveland Lifetime Achievement Award and the Ambassador Bobby Jones Legends Award will be presented to Joe Ligon.

A signature of the Stellar Awards are the rousing, spirit-filled performances and this year is no exception -- confirmed performers include Kirk FranklinAnthony Brown & Group therAPy,Charles Jenkins & Fellowship ChicagoTasha CobbsTravis Greene and Best New Artistnominee Casey J. Additional performers and presenters will also be announced.

The Stellar Awards show taping is open to the public, with ticket prices ranging from $50 - $200 at www.orleansarena.com. Hotel and Ticket packages are also available through the Orleans Arena.

The Stellar Gospel Music Awards Pre-Show is scheduled for Friday, February 19 to showcase non-televised awards winners. Also, the Stellar Gospel Radio Awards & Showcase will be held on Saturday, February 20, honoring top radio stations and announcers serving urban gospel music audiences. Tickets for each event are $35.